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Full text of "The Fifth year, 173d Airborne Brigade"

173d 

AIRBORNE 

BRIGADE 

THE FIFTH YEAR 

MAR. 1969-FEB. 1970 



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THE 

FIFTH 
YEAR 




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Brigadier General H.S. Cunningham, CG 

Major Craig Taylor, Information Officer 

1Lt G.A. Reynolds, Asst Information Officer 

1Lt Stephen R, Thompson, Press Officer 

Sp 4 Wm Scaff, Editor 

Photographers: Sp 5 Robert 

Blakemore, Sp 5 William Bontemps, Sp 5 R.J. Dixon, 

Sp 5 Kent Johnson, Sp 4 C. Carlton Lindaman, Sp 4 

Ed Long, SGT Johnny McCulloch, Sp 5 Joe Oden, 

Sp 4 Robert Parkhill,Sp 4 Floyd Richards, Sp 4 Jerry Yamachika 



173d 

AIRBORNE 

BRIGADE 



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Prepared by the Information Office, 

173d Airborne Brigade, 

APO San Francisco 96250 

as the fifth in a series 

of authorized annual publications 

designed to relate the activities of the brigade 

Opinions expressed herein 

are not necessarily those of the Department of the Army. 



CONTENTS 




COMMANDING GENERALS 6 

HISTORY 12 

UNITS 16 

TRAINING/AMERICAN & ALLIED 32 

THE FIFTH YEAR 36 
OPERATION WASHINGTION-GREEN 38 

TACTICAL OPERATIONS 58 

USO SHOWS & VIPS 80 

BINH DINH PROVINCE 86 

THE SKY SOLDIER 96 

IN MEMORIAM 104 



COMMANDERS 






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BRIGADIER GENERAL JOHN W. BARNES 



Brigadier General John W. Barnes, 
Brigade Commander from December, 
1968 until August, 1969, is the son of a 
career soldier and has known the Army 
nearly all his life. Born in El Paso, Texas, 
he attended school in Boston, Washing- 
ton, D.C. and the Philippines before 
graduating from Manila High School in 
1936. Before attending the United States 
Military Academy, he attended Oregon 
State College and a West Point prep 
school for one year. 

Commissioned a second lieutenant in 
the Corps of Engineers, he entered 
World War II with the 51st Engineers. 
Following the war he attended the 
California Institute of Technology and 
received a master's degree in Aeronauti- 
cal Engineering. 

After a year of Arctic Testing with 
the U.S. Army Engineer Test Detach- 
ment on Hudson Bay, he returned to 
the United States for a 3-year tour at 



the Fort Knox Armor School as an 
instructor. 

In 1953, as a lieutenant colonel, he 
went to Korea and commanded an 
combat engineer battalion until his 
transfer in 1954 to the Infantry. He then 
commanded the 1st Battalion, 17th 
Infantry in the 7th Division for four 
months before transferring to Japan. 

Gen. Barnes tour of duty in Japan 
included service with the Marines in 
Provisional Corps and an assignment in 
the Far East Command Headquarters as 
General Lemnitzer's intelligence briefer. 

Following his return to the U.S. he 
attended the Armed Forces Staff College, 
graduated in June 1957 and then served 
successively as executive officer and 
deputy commander of the 1st Airborne 
Battle Group, 502d Infantry in the 101st 
Airborne Division. 

Promoted to colonel in 1962, the 
general went to Korea again in the 




following year. Assignment this time was 
as CG of the 7th Division's 3d Brigade. 
Upon completion of this tour he re- 
turned to the United States for duty at 
the Army Test and Evaluation Com- 
mand at Aberdeen Proving Grounds 
before service In Vietnam. 




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BRIGADIER GENERAL H. S. CUNNINGHAM 




Brigadier General H. S. Cunningham 
assumed command of the brigade on 
August 9, 1969 after serving as Director 
of Training, Military Assistance Com- 
mand, Vietnam. The 48-year-old com- 
mander first served in Vietnam as J-5 
for the Military Assistance Command. 
On August 10, 1968, he became assistant 
division commander of the 101st Air- 



borne Division, remaining in that posi- 
tion until December 15 when he as- 
sumed duties at MACV Training 
Directorate. 

The general holds a master's degree 
in business administration, earned at 
Harvard University in 195 1, and a 
master of arts degree in international 
affairs from GeorgeWashington Univer- 
sity in 1961. 

An impressive 33-year military 
career began in 1936 in the National 
Guard. The general graduated in 1940 
from high school in Clarkston, Washing- 
ton, and enlisted in the Army on August, 
1942. He earned a commission as a 
second lieutenant in the infantry, 
graduating from Officer Candidate 
School at Camp Robinson, Arkansas, 
in March, 1943. 

During WorldWar II, he served in the 
European Theater of Operations with 
the 194th Glider Infantry Regiment. 



In 1950 during the Korean Conflict, 
Gen. Cunningham served as a battalion 
advisor for the Korean Army. 

Assignment as commanding officer of 
the 2d Battalion, 505th Infantry, 82d 
Airborne Division followed Korea. In 
1953 ne completed the Command and 
General Staff College at Fort Leaven- 
worth, Kansas. 

One tour of duty found him as an 
instructor at the U.S. Army Logistics 
Management Center at Fort Lee, Va. 
He spent a year at the Army War College 
and then reported to Fort Amador, 
Canal Zone, as the assistant chief of staff 
for personnel operations (G-i). 

During his tenure as Chief of Staff of 
the 82d Airborne Division from March 
1965 to June 1966, the general received 
the Legion of Merit for outstanding 
achievement when a division task force 
deployed to the Dominican Republic 
during the crisis there. 




11 




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HISTORY 



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Fighting the Viet Cong and North 
Vietnamese regulars requires a high- 
ly mobile combat force, able to 
adapt to an elusive enemy on his 
own grounds and conduct successful 
operations on the coastal plains, rice 
paddies, dense jungles and rugged 
mountains of Vietnam. The 173d 
Airborne Brigade has proved to be 
just such a unit. 

The brigade was born as a result 
of the marriage between the 173d 
Infantry Brigade and the 2nd Air- 
borne Battle Group, 503d Infantry 
Combat Team on Okinawa on June 
25, 1963. It was designed as the U.S. 
Army's hardhitting, flexible strike 
force of the Pacific and the Far East. 

For the next three years, the 173d 
trained hard on its home island of 
Okinawa and throughout the Asian 
Theater. Extensive airborne, guerilla 
and jungle warfare exercises in the 
Philippines, Taiwan, Korea and 
Thailand, honed the unit to the 
razor edge of combat readiness. 

It was the admiring Chinese 
population on Taiwan, where the 
brigade underwent airborne training 
with the Nationalist Chinese Army, 
that gave the paratoopers the name, 
"Tien Bing," or "Sky Soldiers." It 
stuck and has since been made the 



unofficial nickname for the paratro- 
opers of the 173d Airborne Brigade. 

When the unit deployed to Viet- 
nam in May, 1965 as the first Army 
combat unit to arrive in country, it 
was probably the most combat ready 
American unit ever to enter an armed 
conflict. 

Upon arrival, the brigade defended 
and secured Bien Hoa Air Base while 
conducting patrolling and clearing 
operations in the northern Mekong 
Delta and War Zone D. Ever since 
its first big action north of the Dong 
Nai River where they trapped a 
main force VC regiment and killed 
400, the 173d earned a reputation for 
itself as a reaction force that deployed 
to wherever the fighting was the 
heaviest. 

Two missions, however, stand out 
from all the rest. The first occured 
during February 1967, when the 2nd 
Battlaion made the first combat 
jump in 15 years to spearhead Opera- 
tion Junction City. After the para- 
chute assault deep into War Zone 
C near the Cambodian border and a 
massive helilift of the other batta- 
lions, the 173d swept its area of 
responsibility, killing 266 enemy and 
destroying an important Viet Cong 
propaganda office. 



The second was the capture of Hill 
875 near Dak To during the largest 
and most celebrated single battle of 
the Vietnam War. After 20 con- 
tinuous days of fighting around Dak 
To, brigade elements locked horns 
with an entrenched NVA regiment, 
and in the most bitter fighting of the 
war, captured the hill on Thanksgiv- 
ing Day, 1967. Over 800 enemy were 
killed during the battle. 

It was also in November that the 
I73d's rear elements moved from 
Bien Hoa to An Khe. For almost the 
first three years in Vietnam, how- 
ever, the brigade had been looking 
for a "home of its own" in its tactical 
area of responsibility. This opportu- 
nity came in March, 1968, when the 
173d replaced elements of the 4th 
Infantry Division in the Bong Son 
area and began Operation Cochise/ 
Dan Sing. 

In April, 1969, the brigade began 
its present mission of pacification in 
northern Binh Ding Province. 

During its brief history, the 173d 
Airborne Brigade has undoubtedly 
become, in the words of General 
William Westmoreland, "one of 
the finest units in the history of the 
American Fighting Man." 




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THE UNITS 




503d INFANTRY 



Four airborne battalions of the 503d 
Infantry comprise today's 173d Airborne 
Brigade. The Brigade has inherited the rich 
traditions of the oldest, and one of the most 
renowned parachute infantry regiments in 
the United States Army. 

The founding of the 503d Infantry came 
on March 2, 1942. Three parachute batta- 
lions were combined and sent to Fort 
Bragg, N.C. for training. These three batta- 
lions became the 503d Infantry. The 2d 
Battalion, however, was later detached and 
sent to England for operations in the 
European Theater. 

In October, the 503d deployed to Australia 
for more extensive training for combat 
operations in the Pacific Theater. The 1st 
Battalion 501st Infantry, was then redesig- 
nated the 2d Battalion, 503d Infantry and 
joined the regiment in Australia for further 
training. 

The first airborne operation of the Pacific 
Theater took place in September 1943. The 
503d was moved to Port Mosby, New 
Guinea, in July of '43. From there, the 
regiment jumped into the Markham Valley 
on New Guinea's northeastern coast to 
engage entrenched Japanese forces. After 
two weeks of fighting, the Japanese were 
defeated, and the 503d was reassembled for 
the return to Australia. 

The 503d's next jump was made by the 
1st Battalion on the thickly- jungled island of 
Noemfoor on the northern coast of New 
Guinea. Shielded by a thick smoke screen, 
some of the planes dropped their sticks at 
an altitude of 175 feet for the lowest jump 
on record. 

These actions set the stage for the famous 
combat airborne assault of Corregidor in 
the Philippines. A fortress of Japanese 



bunkers and fighting positions, Corregidor 
was nearly impossible to assault because of 
the small size of the island, treacherous 
winds, rugged terrain and sheer rock cliffs 
which drop straight into the ocean. 

After weeks of naval and aerial bombard- 
ment, the Japanese were completely stunned 
when the 3d Battalion led the way, jumping 
onto the island on February 16, 1945. Al- 
though taken by surprise, the Japanese 
defenders resisted fiercely to the last man, 
and it took the Allies 1 1 days of continuous 
fighting to capture the "Rock" and open 
Manila Bay. 

From this brilliant action, the regiment 
was later awarded the nickname of its most 
famous objective, "The Rock." 

The 503d's final action of the war came 
in April when it supported an infantry divi- 
sion on the Philippine island of Negros. The 
island was secured throughout that spring 
and summer, and the surrender of Japan 
found the Americans in full control of 
Negros. Soon afterward, on December 24, 
1945, the regiment was deactivated. 

During the Korean War, the 503d was 
reactivated and assigned to the 1 1th Airborne 
Division. It did not see combat, but instead 
trained in all parts of the United States, 
including Alaska. 

In 1956, the regiment moved to Germany 
wrjh the 11th Airborne, and in 1957, was 
reorganized under the battle group concept. 
The 1st Airborne Battle Group, 503d 
Infantry was still assigned to the 11th 
Airborne, while the 2d Airborne Battle 
Group, 503d Infantry was organized at 
Fort Bragg as part of the 82nd Airborne 
Division. 

In May of 1960, the latter was moved to 
Okinawa to become Army's strike force 



in the Pacific, and with the addition of sup- 
port units, was redesignated the 2d Air- 
borne Battle Group, 503d Infantry Combat 
Team. On June 25, 1963, it was reorganized 
again and became the 173d Airborne 
Brigade, with the 1st and 2nd Battalions of 
the 503d Infantry. 

These two battalions, which moved with 
the 173d to Vietnam in May of 1965, have 
been awarded the Presidential Unit Citation 
for combat actions in Vietnam. The 2nd 
Battalion conducted the only American 
combat jump of the Vietnam War in 
February of 1967. 

The 4th Battalion joined the Brigade in 
June 1966 and quickly proved to be as 
effective a fighting unit as her sister batta- 
lions. The 3d Battalion sailed from San 
Francisco in October 1967 and immediately 
assumed control of Operation Boiling near 
Tuy Hoa when the other three battalions 
moved to Dak To. 

Dak To has now been written into the 
history books of the 503d Infant ry. This 
battle was one of the largest and bloddiest to 
take place in Vietnam. The paratroopers of 
the 503d Infantry again proved their courage 
and abilities as savage North Vietnamese 
Army attacks were turned back until, on 
Thanksgiving Day, November 23, 1967, the 
4th Battalion took the summit of Hill 875. 

The battalions of the 503d spent 
most of the year 1969, on Operation 
Washington- Green in northern Binh Dinh 
Province. Added to past triumphs of the 
fighting men of the 503d Infantry : Washing- 
ton-Green is certain to become another high 
mark in the history of the 503d Infantry 
and the 173d Airborne Brigade. 




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3 /319th ARTILLERY 







The unit was organized in August, 1917, 
at Camp Gordon, Ga., as Battery C, 319th 
Field Artillery Regiment. The battery served 
with distinction in the 82nd Infantry Divi- 
sion during World War I and was awarded 
battle streamers for Lorraine, St. Mihiel, and 
Meuse-Argonne. 

After the war, the battalion's colors were 
cased until March 1942 when the 319th was 
reactivated at Camp Clairborne, La., again 
as part of the 82nd Infantry. When the 
division was converted to an airborne unit 
in August, 1942, the 319th also made the 
changeover, being redesignated as the 319th 
Glider Field Artillery Battalion. 

After training in North Africa, Battery C 
participated in the Sicilian invasion and was 
awarded its first Distinguished Unit Citation 
for its outstanding achievements in the face 
of bitter enemy attacks. The battery's 
second citation was earned during the Nor- 
mandy Beach invasion when it fired thou- 
sands of shells to secure the Douve and 
Mereret Rivers. More battle streamers were 
added to its colors when the 319th glided into 
Holland in September, 1944, and supported 
the 82nd Airborne in the Battle of the Bulge 
in December. 

In April, 1959, Battery C, 319th Airborne 
Artillery set the record for the Army on 
entering "Fire for Effect" after a heavy 
drop. The cannoneers derigged and as- 
sembled their equipment, set up the Fire 
Direction Center, established communica- 
tions and went into "Fire for Effect" after 
adjusting on a target of opportunity within 
14 minutes and 50 seconds after the last man 
left the aircraft. 

In June 1960, Battery C accompanied the 
2nd Airborne Battle Group, 503d Infantry 
to Okinawa. When the 173d Airborne 
Brigade was organized three years later in 
June 1963, the battery formed the nucleus 
of the present 3d Battalion, 319th Artillery. 

The unit has been with the brigade 
throughout its time in Vietnam. No brigade 
operation in five years has been without 
superb airborne artillery support from 
3/3 19th. With four batteries of lightweight 
versatile M-102 howitzers (105 mm), the 
battalion effectively covers northern Binh 
Dinh with fast accurate firepower. Prepared 
to fight as infantry, the Redlegs secure their 
own firebases without attached infantry. 
During the fifth year as in previous years, 
fire support for maneuver elements is as 
close as the radio. 






21 



E TROOP, 17th CAVALRY 



The 17th Cavalry originated at Fort. 
Bliss, Texas in 1916, as a horse cavalry 
regiment armed with sabres, pistols and 
carbines. It did not see combat in either 
World War, however. In 1951, the Head- 
quarters Troop was combined with the 17th 
Armored Group and redesignated as 
Headquarters Troop, 17th Armored Cavalry 
Group. The 17th Armored group had 
fought with distinction during World War 
II in northern France and Central Europe. 

The remaining troops of the regiment 
were disbanded when Headquarters troops 
was combined, but E Troop was recon- 
stituted in May of 1959. It joined the 173d 
Airborne Brigade on Okinawa in 1963, as 
the only separate airborne cavalry troop in 
the Army. 

The troop originally used jeeps mounted 
with .50 cal. machine guns and 106 mm 
recoiless rifles. In late October, 1969, the 
troop acquired the tracks and men of the 
173d Provisional Tank Co (originally Com- 
pany D, 16th Armor) when that unit was 
deactivated. The 173d Provisional Tank 
Company fought in such operations as 
Junction City, Sioux City, and Operation 




MacArthur. At Tuy Hoa North the tankers 
killed 137 NVA during a day long battle 
in March, 1968. 

The 17th Cavalry plays an important role 
in the brigade's pacification program. 



Besides securing Highways 3- A and QL-1, 
the Cav. troopers train villagers of the 
Hoai An District in keeping hamlet security. 
Explaining various tactics and ambush 
procedures, they also instruct the villagers' 
self-defense groups in the use of various 
weapons. 

When the Cav. is attached to another 
unit in the brigade, its mobility and fire- 
power helps it serve as a security, blocking 
or reconnaissance and surveillance force. 
Operating separately, the troop runs road- 
clearing operations, escorts convoys and 
conducts mounted and dismounted recon- 
naissance missions. 

The troop is also used extensively as the 
brigade's reactionary force. Capable of 
heliborne assaults, the unit occasionally 
conducts missions as a separate infantry 
force for reconnaissance-in-force, raid, or 
ambush. 

Living up to their motto, "Ahead of the 
Best," E Troop has spearheaded new opera- 
tions and preceded the brigade to new areas 
of operation. The troop was awarded the 
Valorous Unit Citation for actions during 
Operation Cedar Falls in January, 1967. 




22 



N COMPANY RANGERS, 75th INFANTRY 



Suited up in camouflaged fatigues, with 
darkened faces to help them blend in with 
the surrounding vegetation they are going 
into, the Rangers ready themselves for a 
mission. 

The small group of men with rucksacks 
on their backs and M-16's in their hands 
scurries aboard a helicopter to fly to their 
destination. 

Trained in the art of rappelling the 
Rangers are prepared to tackle any obstacle 
and overcome it to reach their assigned 
location. It may be southeast of Landing 
Zone English in the rugged triple canopied 
jungles of the Tiger Mountains. Or the 
enemy infested regions of the mountains 
around the An Do and An Lao Valleys. 

Wherever, the Rangers' mission is to find 



the enemy and follow his movement. It is 
also to keep the commanding general 
informed as to the enemy's whereabouts, 
his strength, armament and if moving, his 
direction. 

The majority of their missions are for 
reconnaissance purposes. A secondary 
mission of capturing enemy or ambushing 
a well-used trail is more often than not an 
intergrated aspect of recon. 

Rangers are also capable of conducting 
large-scale combat patrols for raids and 
recon. 

These Sky Soldiers are alert individuals 
whose aggressiveness severely limits the 
enemy's freedom of movement in their 
so-called safe areas. 

They penetrate the NVA and VC sanctu- 



arys daily to play a deadly game of "hide and 
seek" in the jungles and forests of Binh 
Dinh Province. 

During an enemy encounter, the Ranger's 
knowledge of the use of artillery and air 
support gives him the advantage of quick, 
devastating fire power, at a moment's 
notice. 

Sweating from the scorching sun 
soaked by the monsoon rains these 
paratroopers never lose the pride 
courage it takes to be a Ranger. 

In their endless struggle against 
enemy, their ARVN counterparts and these 
soldiers of Co. N, (Ranger) 75th Infantry, 
173d Airborne Brigade, know that "A 
winner never quits and a quitter never 
wins." 



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172d MILITARY INTELLIGENCE DETACHMENT 



Military intelligence is like trying to solve 
a big puzzle of useful tidbits of informa- 
tion. Volumes and volumes of documents, 
transcripts of prisoner interrogations, and 
other materials yield facts that are pieced 
togather and analyzed. The result of the 
analysis is military intelligence. 

The 172d Military Intelligence Detach- 
ment's success at solving the puzzle depends 
heavily on the high degree of cooperation 
and teamwork that exists among the four 
sections : counter intelligence (CI), order of 
battle (OB), image interpretation (II), and 
prisoner of war interrogation (IPW). 

The CI section's main concern is to deny 
useful information to the enemy and to 
prevent or investigate acts of sabotage. This 
section processes security clearances on 



brigade personnel and conducts inspec- 
tions, designed to protect the brigade's 
classified material. 

The OB section keeps tabs on the 
enemy's strength, location, mission, and 
capabilities. The section draws information 
from documents, prisoners, agent reports, 
visual reconnaissances and aerial photos. 
Skillful eyes sort through a virtual haystack 
of printed material daily for one tiny needle 
of useful fact. 

Image interpretation involves analysis of 
terrain and manmade objects as they appear 
in aerial photos. The section pieces together 
mosaic maps from aerial photos and has 
on file a large percentage of the brigade's 
area of operation. 

The IPW section deals with enemy sus- 



pects and prisoners, Hoi Chanhs, captured 
weapons and documents. IPW depends on 
the other sections and units in the field to 
supply the information needed to ask the 
questions which are most likely to elicit 
useful answers from detainees. 

Out of the never ending flow of informa- 
tion and misinformation, of detainees, 
weapons, photos and documents, comes a 
precious commodity — military intelligence. 
That commodity, however, is worth the 
effort exerted to obtain it; because it may 
mean the difference between life and death 
for the rifleman the artilleryman, the 
pilot, possibly even the clerk and cook, 
who wage war against a determined and 
clever communist enemy. 







24 



173d MILITARY POLICE 



The brigade MPs arrived in country with the advance party of 
the 173d in May 1965. They immediately assumed many extra 
duties in addition to keeping law and order and controlling traffic. 
They were often called upon to serve with line companies as 
infantrymen and many manned M-60 machine guns as door gunners 
on helicopter gunships. 

The next year military policemen expanded their operations to 
include providing guards for Civil Affairs teams, refugee control 
and road and brigade reconnaissance. They also provided security 
for engineer work parties. 

In 1967 the airborne policemen made the first combat jump of 
any American unit in Vietnam with the 2d Battalion 503d Infantry. 
At Dak To in November of that year the MPs provided mobile 
firepower for supply convoys with their gun jeeps and secured the 
roads and airstrip. 

With the advent of pacification under Operation Washington- 
Green in 1969 the MPs again had to enlarge their operations to 
include working with Vietnamese National Police and Quan 
Canh (ARVN MPs), maintaining a combined police operations 
center in addition to their other duties. They pull convoy "escort 
with the new V 100 escort vehicle, provide gate guards for installa- 
tions of the brigade, VIP escort, Tactical Operations Center (TOC) 
guard, act as ready reaction force for LZ English plus normal 
peace keeping and law enforcement operations. 








25 



534th SIGNAL COMPANY 



The contribution of the 534th Signal 
Company during the 173d Airborne 
Brigade's fifth year in Vietnam has been 
notable while technically diverse. Under 
the guidance of MA J Frank M. Boberek, 
Brigade Signal Officer, communications 
have improved to enviable levels. 

Overhead wire and cable at LZ English, 
a constant headache, were replaced in their 
entirety with an underground multi-par 
cable system. With this technically superior 
system, some maintence and frequent 
faults were eliminated and wire communica- 
tions improved immeasurably. 

The signal commany, during the last 
year, responded to many communications 
tasks. Increasing the number of RATT 
stations in the Brigade Administration and 
Logistics Net from two to seven, the signal 
company provided each maneuver battalion 
direct communication (hard copy-page 
print) with Brigade AG, Finance, and 
various elements of the 173d Support Bat- 
talion. 

Another improvement in communica- 



tions is the marked efficiency of the Para- 
chute Main Switchboard. Securing a corps 
level switchboard (the AN/MTC-1) from 
IFFV and the 21st Signal Group, brigade 
communications personnel added several 
hundred TA-236 (civilian style black) 
telephones for the brigade. In operation, 
every telephone service short of direct 
dialing was provided for the brigade. In 
short, the 173d Airborne Brigade enjoyed 
and continues to enjoy better telephone 
service than any division in Vietnam. 

Striving to further bolster the brigade 
communications, the signal company 
obtained secure radio equipment in amounts 
comparable to a division sized unit in 
Vietnam. 

FM communication is another aspect of 
signal company's diversity. Administering 
the brigate nets, signal personnel also 
maintain retransmission sites throughout 
the AO to overcome natural terrain and 
distance obstacles. 

The 534th Signal Company is also the 
home of the brigade's MARS facility. 



Deciding that not enough airborne soldiers 
were getting a chance to call home, the 
signal company obtained equipment and 
outfitted a mobile MARS station. Hooked 
by a helicopter, you too might find a MARS 
station descending into your AO ready to 
help you call up "the world." No area is too 
small for MARS personnel to set up opera- 
tion. 

The "Parachute Post," the brigade's 
daily news paper, uses services provided by 
the 534th Signal Company. With organic 
radio-teletype equipment, the signal com- 
pany monitors AP and UPI wire services in 
order to provide the Troops with timely 
international news. 

The 534th Signal Company, during the 
fifth year, improved communications at 
every level, from efficient telephone service 
for the Commanding General and staff to 
increased use of MARS for the troops in 
the field. Next time you're on the phone 
and the operator asks, "Parachute Main Sir, 
are you working?", you can be damn sure, 
at the signal company they're working. 




CASPER PLATOON 




The only separate aviation platoon in 
the Army, Casper was organized with the 
Brigade on Okinawa in 1963 and arrived in 
Vietnam in May 1965". Since that time, it 
has flown almost every type of heliborne 
mission — including resupply, dust off, 
"Snoopy," visual reconnaissance, command 
and control, and combat assault. 

Its main responsibility is to provide 
UH-1H "Huey-slicks" as command and 
control ships for the Brigade's commanders 
and OH-6 "Loaches" for reconnaissance 
and surveillance missions. The dedication 
and esprit de corps of the Caspers is widely 
known and is shown by their extension rate, 
which is the highest in the Brigade. 





27 



173d ENGINEER COMPANY 



The 173d Engineer Company was consituted on March 26, 
1963, and activated with the brigade in June on Okinawa. Since 
then, the company has provided the 173d with unexcelled engineer 
support from Bien Hoa to Bong Son. 

As combat engineers, they are capable of deploying with the 
infantry to cut landing zones, destroy enemy bunkers and explode 
booby-traps and mines. 

Offering aid to the Government of Vietnam's pacification pro- 
gram, they have engaged in bridge construction, road repair and 
daily minesweeps along Highway QL-1. 

In addition to their combat and pacification commitments, they 
have the task of developing forward base camps and constucting 
fire support bases. Another important job is the operation of four 
water purification points, from which tons of potable water are 
produced daily. 

During it's brief history, the company was awarded the Itschner 
Plaque as the most outstanding engineer unit in the entire Army 
during 1967, and the 2nd Platoon has been awarded the Presidential 
Unit Citation for actions from 1965 to 1967. 





39th SCOUT DOG PLATOON 




One of the smallest, and yet, most effective units when it comes 
to detecting the enemy, is the 39th Scout Dog Platoon. The unit 
is a composite of scout dogs, their handlers and the Combat 
Trackers of the 75th Infantry. 

The platoon has been with the Brigade since 1966 when they 
joined us at Bien Hoa. The 75th Infantry was attached to the 173d 
in October of 1967, and then assigned to the 39th in February of 
1968. 

A German shepard scout dog, and his handler are attached to an 
individual infantry company when they are needed, and have been 
extremely useful in uncovering enemy ambushes, booby-traps, 
and caches. The Combat Trackers have two teams which consist of 
a Labrador Retriever and five men who have had seven weeks of 
intensive field training in Malaysia. Their mission is to re-establish 
contact with enemy after a fire fight. 

Using both their own knowledge of the enemy and the dog's 
sense of smell, the tracker teams can determine the number and sex 
of their quarry, and whether they are NVA or Viet Cong. Often, 
they can also determine the enemy's morale, discipline and arma- 
ment. 

Both the German Shepard scout dogs, and the combat trackers 
have proven their worth in Vietnam. Their highest compliments 
have been found in captured enemy documents which warn the 
Viet Cong and NVA to keep clear of the American dogs. 




29 



SUPPORT BATTALION 



Support Battalion, formed with the 173d 
Airborne Brigade in 1963 and originally 
deployed to Vietnam in 1965 with the two 
maneuver battalions, now operates with 
more output and higher efficiency than at 
any time in it's history. 

The largest concentration of the batta- 
lion's personnel and efforts it- at Phu Tai, 
ten miles north of Qui Nhon. Here Company 
A Administration) houses the main finance 
office and various administrative branches 
maintain the workshops which process 
daily paperwork and pay records. 



Company C (Supply and Service) is 
organized into three functional areas; the 
Air Equipment Supply Platoon, Supply 
Platoon, and Transportation Platoon. 
Together their mission is to support the 
brigade and attached units by providing 
all classes of supply. 

Attending to the medical needs of the 
brigade, both directly and indirectly, Com- 
pany B (Medical) at LZ English. With a 
normal capacity for 80 bed patients, the 
company can handle up to 120 patients in 
an emergency. 



The medics have also initiated classes on 
personal hygiene for civilians in the sur- 
rounding areas. At the nearby Bong Son 
dispensary a company doctor assists in 
administering nursing instruction to the 
Vietnamese students. 

Not far from B Med at LZ English is 
Company D (Maintenance). They supervise 
the brigade maintenance and repair parts 
service and provide direct support main- 
tenance for the unit. A new mechanical 
maintenance shop allows the automotive, 
engineer, fuel, and electrical sections to 
function with the shop office and motor 
pool under one roof. 








30 



173d CHAPLAINS 



They have different backgrounds and are 
of different faiths, but they share a common 
purpose. The five chaplains of the 173d 
are serving God. They provide services 
daily and are always available to talk to 
soldiers about personal problems and 
religious matters. 

One of the chaplains is a West Pointer; 
another is an ex-infantry and military 
police officer; and one chaplain earned a 
Bachelor of Science degree in Animal 
Husbandry and worked for five and one- 
half years as a livestock specialist before 
entering the ministry. Still another chaplain 
is an ex-professor at Marquette University. 
All the chaplains are airborne qualified and 




Vietnam volunteers. 

The chaplains go where the men of the 
173d are and usually get to the field by 
jeep or chopper. They have been known 
to travel dangerous roads or land at hot 
LZs to reach the "grunts". Their altar may 
be the hood of a jeep or a stack of C-ration 
boxes. 

They work hard hours and travel long 
distances to reach the combat soldier. After 
a trip to the field, or at the end of a religious 
service, the chaplain may lean his weary 
body up against a tree and become lost in 
his own thoughts. A grunt might shyly 
approach him and simply, but sincerely, 
say, "Thanks for coming." 







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The 173 rd Airborne Brigade's training 
program emcompasses several different 
areas. Not only does the brigade train its 
own replacements upon arrival in Vietnam, 
but it also teaches the troops of the Govern- 
ment of Vietnam many of the same lessons. 

At the Brigade's schools in Cha Rang, 
incoming American personnel receive 
classes from men who have recently been 
in the field or have vast experiences in 
jungle warfare to pass on to the men. 

The "jungle school" is mandatory for each 
enlisted man and company grade officer 
coming into the 173 rd. The course lasts 
only four or five days, but the lessons 
passed on to the new paratroopers are easily 
absorbed. The information put out to the 
men is timely, and Brigade proceedures to 
the new Sky Soldiers. 

The school refreshes the minds of even the 
old soldiers wher classes on the M-16 rifle 
and the claymore mine are presented. Many 
of these replacements have never seen the 
starlite scope, which is also demonstrated 
and used in practical exercises at the school. 

Then comes the class on the enemy and 
his tactics. The men listen with keen atten- 
tion as a senior NCO tells the how to look 
for booby-traps, how they are employed, 
how they are made — and what they can 
do. 

Classes on enemy weapons give the new 
guys a a first hand look at what "Charlie" 
is using to shoot at him. 

The brigade's training progaram also 
extends to the Vietnamese soldiers. The 
brigade trains selected NCO's and officers of 
the Regional and Popular Forces (RF/PF) 
and the Revolutionary Development 
Cadre (RD Cadre). 

These Vietnamese soldiers are trained in 
U.S. weaponry, patrolling, ambushes, 
leadership and enemy tactics and capa- 
bilities. 

The men of N Company (Ranger), 75th 




Infantry, train ARVN soldiers in long 
range and short range patrol techniques. In 
this program, an ARVN recon platoon 
actually lives and works with the U.S. 
rangers. They learn American techniques 
and combine them with what they already 
know about the enemy and his tactics. 

Another training mission taken on by the 
173rd is training the People's Self Defense 
Force (PSDF). The PSDF assists the RF/PF 
in providing security for the many small 
hamlets. The Sky Soldiers teach these men 
the basics of weaponry and defensive tacts. 

The effectiveness of training is measured 
by the ever increasing burden placed on the 






Vietnamese military and their success. 
Although the primary responsibility for 
the "pacification" of the countryside falls 
upon Vietnamese shoulders, the 173rd 
feels that there is much that the Sky Soldiers 
can contribute to the ultimate success of 
the mission. All of the leaders of the brigade 
constantly work to assist their opposite 
Vietnamese officials in all aspects of pacifica- 
tions. 

As Operation Washington-Green con- 
tinues, the excellent leadership and training 
provided by the 173rd Airborne Brigade 
cannot help but hasten the completion of 
our job here. 




34 



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THE 
FIFTH 
YEAR 



OPERATION WASHINGTON-GREEN 
TACTICAL OPERATIONS 







OPERATION 
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The year 1969 marked the beginning of 
the end of the Vietnam War, at least for U.S. 
troops. President Nixon announced the 
first withdrawals of American combat units 
as enemy effectiveness dwindled and 
Vietnamese forces grew increasingly pro- 
ficient at handling the fighting alone. 

Appropriately, the year also brought a 
significantly new mission for the 173d 
Airborne Brigade, which arrived in Vietnam 
in May 1965 as the first U.S. Army combat 
unit in the war. On April 15, the brigade 
stopped chasing the Viet Cong and North 
Vietnamese Army troops in large scale 
search and clear combat operations and 
began support of the Vietnamese Govern- 
ment's pacification program in the four 
districts of northern Binh Dinh Province. 
The goal: help bring all of the area's 300,000 
people under government control. And the 
brigade prepared to stay as long as neces- 
sary to reach that goal. 

Battle hardened paratroopers seemed un- 
likely soldiers for the pacification mission. 
In four years of fighting in Vietnam, 173d 
Sky Soldiers had shed a lot of blood and 
sweat as they fought the Viet Cong and 
North Vietnamese Army in the jungles near 
Bien Hoa, in the Iron Triangle, on the 
bloody slopes at Dak To in the highlands, 
near rice-rich Tuy Hoa and on the fertile 
Bong Son coastal plains. 

By Spring 1969, the time seemed ripe for 
a large scale pacification effort in northern 
Binh Dinh Province where the brigade had 
been operating for a year. In February, 
Brigadier General John W. Barnes, 173d 
40 



commanding general, had observed, "It's 
no longer a big unit war. We've forced the 
enemy to fragment his forces to avoid 
detection. And in turn, we have done like- 
wise and gone after him, saturating the 
areas he once could call his own, meeting 
him on his own terms, ferreting him out 
and destroying him. Of course, this has put 
a great responsibility on the small unit 
leader. It has become a squad and platoon 
leader's war, and they are doing a fine job." 
The brigade operations officer put it this 
way: "We're nickel and diming the enemy 
to death." 

Early in February, the brigade ended 
three long-term operations in Binh Dinh 
Province. Besides accounting for nearly 
2,000 enemy killed, one result of these 
operations was security of highway QL-19 
between An Khe and the important port 
of Qui Nhon, paving the way for the 
eventual move of the brigade's 4th Bat- 
talion, 503d Infantry and 1st Battalion, 50th 
Infantry (Mechanized) from An Khe area 
to the coastal plains near Bong Son. Three 
other operations, characterized by successful 
small unit hawk operations, began im- 
mediately and continued until the begin- 
ning of Operation Washington-Green, the 
pacification mission, on April 15. In May, 
the 173d Support Battalion moved from An 
Khe to the Phu Tai and Cha Rang Valleys 
near Qui Nhon. 

At the outset of Washington-Green, 
General Barnes emphasized that the brigade 
would no longer be preoccupied with 
chasing and killing enemy troops in un- 








populated jungle and mountain areas. 
"Body count is no longer the criterion for 
success. Instead, we will secure the people, 
their homes and their farms. Our aim is to 
deny the VC their support from the hamlets, 
without which they can not survive," 
concluded the 49-year-old commander. 

Security was the name of the game. Com- 
bined Vietnamese and 173d forces moved 
into key hamlets or set up nearby, providing 
a protective screen behind which govern- 
ment agencies initiated pacification pro- 
grams to improve local economies, standards 
of living, and most important, to develop 
awareness of the Saigon government 
among the villagers. 

The four districts that made up the 
brigade's area of operation lie about 280 
miles northeast of Saigon. In the coastal 
lowlands, bordered on the east by white 
sandy beaches and rocky cliffs, shallow 
water fishing supports the economy. Further 
inland, just beyond the first range of low 
forested mountains, rice farming is the basic 
occupation. Still farther west, toward the 
Cambodian border, lie thickly forested and 
sparsely populated mountains, where the 
enemy has located his largest base areas. 

Bong Son is the largest population center 
in northern Binh Dinh. Small industries in 
the area include cigarette shops, brick kilns, 
ice plants, some salt flats and a few shops 
that manufacture rope from coconut bush 
fiber. Most of the people are ethnic Vietna- 
mese, with ancestral roots in the ancient 
Chinese ruled kingdom of Annam. They 
adhere primarily to Buddhist, Catholic and 
Protestant religions. 



Each of the brigade's four maneuver 
battalions operated in a single district. Each 
battalion commander located a tactical 
operations center with local Vietnamese 
forces in the district headquarters. The 1st 
Battalion, 503d Infantry operated in Hoai 
An district with headquarters at Landing 
Zone Orange. The 2/503d Infantry ope- 
rated in Hoai Nhon district with Bong Son 
as district headquarters, and the 4th of the 
503d went into the newest district, Tarn 
Quan, with the combined headquarters at 
LZ Tom. The 1st of the 50th Infantry work- 
ed in Phu My district. The 40th and 41st 
Regiments of the Army of the Republic of 
Vietnam (ARVN) each worked in separate 
areas of operation. 

Initially, 24 target hamlets were selected. 
Brigade or ARVN units provided screening 
and blocking forces while Regional and 
Popular Forces and National Police search- 
ed the hamlets for VC. The district chiefs 
planned the operations, while Military 
Assistance Command (MACV) teams and 
173d battalion commanders helped the 
chiefs coordinate and execute the missions. 

General Barnes and his Successor, 
Brigadier General H.S. Cunningham, re- 
cognized that success of the pacification 
mission required the confidence of the 
Vietnamese people. To generate confidence, 
combined RF-PF, 173d, or ARVN security 
elements remained in their assigned hamlets 
until pacification goals were achieved. These 
goals included effective Self Defense Forces, 
RF and PF, elected hamlet chiefs living day 
and night in the hamlets, responsive hamlet 
government, elimination of VC, resettle- 



ment of refugees, attendance in school by 
children, and involvement of residents in 
self-help projects of their choice. 

Each hamlet organized a RF platoon as 
its primary defense force and a Self Defense 
Force for intra-hamlet security. Special 
teams of paratroopers played an important 
role in helping the 12 MACV, five-man 
teams train and equip these forces. Constant 
patrolling and alert defense of key hamlets 
denied local and main-force VC units much 
of the support they need to continue fight- 
ing. Whenever the enemy came out of the 
jungles and hills to extort money, gather 
food and recruit people, they met deter- 
mined resistance from combined Vietnamese 
and U.S. security forces. Behind this security 
screen, the people began rebuilding their 
war-shattered countryside and economy. 

The plan called for Vietnamese forces to 
continue security operations as the 173d's 
forces gradually withdrew, setting up again 
in other key hamlets. Eventually, these 
paramilitary Vietnamese forces will carry 
on the defense effort without U.S. help. 
Regular ARVN troops will be freed from 
the populated areas to prevent invasion 
across national boundaries and to search 
out the VC and NVA in mountain base 
areas. 

By the time General Cunningham as- 
sumed command of the Brigade on August 
9 and General Barnes returned to the 
United States, Operation Washington- 
Green had produced several gratifying 
results. In Tarn Quan district, company of 
the 4/503d Infantry helped provide security 
while a Vietnamese Catholic priest super- 

43 







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vised the rebuilding of the community's 
church. Several years earlier, Viet Cong and 
NVA troops had wrecked the church and 
terrorized the parishners, who fled to refugee 
camps in the Qui Nhon area. 

The brigade provided commodity sup- 
port as well as security, and Revolutionary 
Development Cadre supervised the con- 
struction of a dispensary and renovation of 
the Qui Thuan school. The priest promised 
to persuade his 6,000 parishners to return 
to the hamlet. Some returned, but others 
were waiting until Spring 1970 to test the 
government's willingness to provide long- 
term security. 

Cooperation between the 4th Battalion 
and district officials revived the Tarn 
Quan fishing industry and pumped life into 
the stagnant Tarn Quan market. Both had 



languished under a government restriction 
on fishing, imposed in 1966. The restriction 
was necessary to control VC infiltration 
through the waters of Tarn Quan inlet. 
When a 4th Battalion platoon, an RF 
platoon, an RF team and the hamlet chief 
moved into Thien Chanh on April 20, only 
42 diehard fishermen remained, fishing 
furtively and illegally when U.S. and South 
Vietnamese patrol boats were out of sight. 
Brigade officers and hamlet officials ar- 
ranged to escort fishing boats beyond the 
three-kilometer restricted zone to fish during 
the day and escort them back in the after- 
noon. The hamlet chief checked boats in 
and out. The fishermen's catch was sold in 
the Tarn Quan market place. Thien Chanh 
began to thrive again, and two neighboring 
fishing hamlets asked to be included in the 



arrangement with the Thien Chanh fleet. 
Step-by-Step the restrictions were lifted 
until the night-time curfew alone remained 
and the 4th Battalion's small escort boat 
was no longer needed. By the end of 1969, 
Thien Chanh had more than 2,000 residents, 
and the market place hummed with trade. 
In Hoai Nhon district, My Due hamlet, 
at the mouth of the notorious An Lao 
Valley, became a highly touted example of 
pacification progress. Before April 15, not 
a building stood in the hamlet, not a person 
lived there. Former residents lived in regufee 
camps in Bong Son. On April 15, a com- 
bined 2d Battalion and RF security element 
moved into My Due. They remained alone 
for some time. Then people brought their 
cattle to graze during the day. Farmers 
began working the fallow rice fields. 



46 




Brigade engineers rebuilt the bridge that 
the VC had destroyed, and the paratroopers 
and RF soldiers were resupplied by trucks 
instead of helicopters. As former residents 
became convinced that security troops 
would remain as long as necessary, they 
began building homes among the ruins. 
By the end of the year more than 160 
families lived in My Due. 

U.S. and Vietnamese officials decided to 
make a test case of Hoai An District. The 
1st Battalion had trained effective Self 
Defense Forces by the middle of the sum- 
mer, and there had been no enemy-initiated 
incidents since the beginning of Washington- 
Green. By early August, only E Troop, 17th 
Cavalry and a 2d Battalion company con- 
tinued the job an entire battalion had started. 
E Troop withdrew in November to assume 



other duties, leaving only one U.S. company 
and local Vietnamese forces to continue the 
security mission. The entire population of 
Hoai An lived under government control 
before the end of the year. 

The beginning of the pacification mission 
brought a dramatic increase in the number 
of Hoi Chanhs, enemy who turned them- 
selves into Allied troops under the Chieu 
Hoi (Open Arms) program. Brigade civil 
affairs and psychological operations officer 
Major Karl L. Sannicks explained, "Before 
April, from 10 to 15 enemy per month were 
rallying to Allied forces in northern Binh 
Dinh Province. In April, 44 surrendered. 
The number averaged around 38 per month, 
and then came October when 179 Charlies 
came over to the Republic of Vietnam." 
Sannicks noted that more than 100 of 



October's Hoi Chanhs came from Phu My 
District, all within a week's time. 

Other indications measured pacification 
progress. The people began to point out 
booby traps and turn in enemy weapons 
and equipment. They got paid according to 
the information or material they turned in. 
Funds for the payments came from the 
country-wide Volunteer Informant Pro- 
gram. 

Regional and Popular Forces became 
increasingly proficient at setting out night 
ambushes and defending the hamlets against 
VC guerrillas. At the beginning of Washing- 
ton-Green, brigade forces assumed bridge 
and road security missions, releasing RF-PF 
for defense of the hamlets. 



47 





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Brigadier General H.S. Cunningham, a 
former assistant division commander of the 
101st Airborne Division (Airmobile) in 
Vietnam, assumed command of the 173d on 
August 9. The 49-year-old former Scream- 
ing Eagle arrived when significant changes 
were beginning to occur in the enemy 
situation, tactical application of the pacifica- 
tion concept, and brigade organization. 
But one fact did not change: The brigade 
remained committed to pacification. 

In early September, the 3d of the 503d 
Infantry rejoined the brigade from Task 
Force South, and the 1st of the 50th In- 
fantry left the brigade and joined Task 
Force South at Phan Thiet. Initially, the 
3/503d took over the l/50th's pacification 
mission in Phu My District. Later, the bat- 
talion was freed for combat operations in 
the Crow's Foot area in the southwestern 
corner of the AO. 

By late summer the enemy had begun 
making moves from the mountains to the 
west indicating he might try to disrupt 
pacification in the lowland hamlets and try 



to regain his support. In response to a 
growing enemy threat, the 1st Battalion, 12th 
Infantry from the 4th Division came under 
the brigade's operational control late in 
September for operations in the An Lao 
Valley. In October, the rest of the 4th 
Division's 2d Brigade joined the l/12th. 

On the last day of October, the 173d 
Provisional Tank Company was deactivated. 
As the only airborne armor unit in the U.S. 
Army, the company had also been known 
as Company D, 16th Armor and the Tuy 
Hoa Provisional Tank Company, while 
compiling a distinguished combat record 
with the brigade. 

E Troop, 17th Cavalry salvaged its gun 
jeeps, nicknamed after television's Rat 
Patrol, and took over the tank company's 
armored personnel carriers. In addition, 
the Cav received new Sheridan Airborne 
Armored Assault Vehicles. 

In December, the 101st Division's 3d 
Battalion, 506th Infantry joined the 173d 
to help prevent an enemy buildup in the 
Crow's Foot area from disrupting the pacifi- 



cation work of the rest of the brigade in the 
populated areas. 

Brigade and Vietnamese forces made 
progress together, at first moving quickly, 
then during the late summer and early fall, 
slowing down. 173d engineers continued 
work improving the roads and bridges in 
the AO. Highway 3A was extended, linking 
Hoai Nhon's coastal fishing communities 
with inland agricultural hamlets. The 2d 
Battalion helped bring Lo Dieu hamlet, on 
an isolated stretch of beach with the Tiger 
Mountains towering above the hamlet on 
three other sides, under government control. 
The tranquil Lo Dieu beach became a one- 
day R & R site for weary paratroopers. 

Deserted An Quang hamlet near the coast 
in Phu My became a thriving community 
of more than 157 families in October when 
the 3/503d Infantry and local Vietnamese 
forces provided security and helped vil- 
lagers move back to their homes from tem- 
porary dwellings on beach sand dunes. 
Constant fighting between VC and Allied 
forces had driven An Quang residents to 




61 




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the open beach. 

Prosperous Phu Thu fishing hamlet 
represented another government gain in the 
pacification program. The VC wanted the 
hamlet because it was located near the base 
of the Tiger Mountains with easy access to 
mountain hideouts. An integrated Vietna- 
mese-paratrooper security element moved 
into Phu Thu to stay in October. By the end 
of the year, hamlet residents were cooperat- 
ing with the security force against the VC. 
Before the Allied team entered the hamlet, 
helicopters flying over it were often shot 
at. 

The pacification mission had produced 
new problems for an airborne unit that had 
been used to fighting in dense jungles, 
rugged mountains and mired rice paddies, 
constantlv on the move, constantly bone 
wearv. First, the paratroopers got bored. 
Platoons and companies remained in fixed 
locations for weeks. The job of training 
local forces and patrolling the same ground 
day after day soon became monotonous. 
Second, they had to fight complacency bred 
by monotonous routine to prevent the 
enemy from gaining offensive initiative. 

In one way though, what seemed as 
monotonous routine often worked to an 
advantage. Because the combined security 
forces remained in or near the hamlets for 
extended periods, the people came to know 
and trust the soldiers. Cooperation and 
rapport soon developed between soldiers 
and villagers. The VC, who once controlled 
the hamlets by extortion and terror, found 
themselves on the outside. 

But there were setbacks too. VC assas- 



sination and kidnap teams sometimes 
evaded the security net and killed or cap- 
tured key local officials or committed other 
acts of terrorism. Paratroopers and Vietna- 
mese soldiers found booby traps and mines 
the painful, deadly way, even after pacifica- 
tion progress in the hamlets. The Viet Cong 
infrastructure suffered, but it wasn't com- 
pletely destroyed in 1969. Although bri- 
gade troops weren't preoccupied with 
chasing and killing the enemy, they still 
engaged VC and NVA troops in small unit 
combat, suffering casualties as well as 
inflicting them. 

In December, General Cunningham ob- 
served, "Enemy attention to our activities 
is itself a strong indication of our success. 
Eight months ago the VC and NVA operat- 
ed primarily with their logistics elements, 
drawing subsistence for their forces. The 
enemy was not concerned with sustaining 
a large military effort in this area because 
he had effective control of the rice produc- 
tion. 

"Only a fraction of the 2d VC Regiment 
and the 18th NVA Regiment was active 
in the area. Since that time his attention to 
our activites has grown in direct proportion 
to our success." 

The commanding general explained that 
22d NVA Regiment began operating in the 
An Lao Valley, threatening pacification ef- 
forts in Hoai Nhon and Tarn Quan districts. 
Local guerrillas continued to operate in the 
populated areas, but RF, PF and brigade 
security forces have reduced the local 
enemy's effectiveness. 

"Our intelligence indicates that the 



VC-NVA continue to build up their forces 
and are doing their utmost to mount 
significant operations against us," continu- 
ed Cunningham. "We are effectively denying 
the enemy the support he needs to wage 
offensive operations." 

A marked increase in communist activity 
occurred in November as VC and NVA 
harrassed or probed brigade defenses. Dur- 
ing early morning attacks November 3 on 
artillery Fire Support Bases Mahoney and 
Stinger, 3d Battalion, 319th Artillerymen 
and 4/503d Infantrymen killed 30 enemy 
and captured numerous weapons and equip- 
ment. Sappers hit Mahonev just after mid- 
night, and an hour and a half later Fire Base 
Stinger, about seven miles southwest of 
Mahoney, was probed. 

On November 8, helicopter pilots of C 
Troop, 7th Squadron, 17th Air Cavalry, 
attached to the brigade, spotted four 
Vietnamese flee into a cave south of Bong 
Son. The Cav's aero rifle platoon and a 
platoon from the 3/503d's Company B were 
inserted in the area and found a sizeable 
cache of weapons, ammunition and food. 
Further search yielded 30 VC suspects, 27 
of whom were later classified as VC. Two 
armed VC were engaged outside the cave 
complex; one was killed and his AK-47 
rifle captured. 

A few days after that engagement, one 
of the 27 VC captives led a platoon of the 
3d Battalion's Company D to another large 
weapons cache. 

On November 11, enemy gunners shelled 
the brigade headquarters camp at LZ 
English with '40 rounds of mortar and 



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recoilless rifle fire, the most significant 
attack on that camp in months. 

Early November 19th alert paratroopers 
of Company A, 4/503d Infantry killed or 
captured all of an enemy force that attacked 
their company command post near An Qui 
hamlet. The company suffered no casualties 
as it killed 10 NVA and captured another 



during the brief attack that came at 3:30 
a.m. The captured sapper confirmed that the 
attacking force numbered 11 men. 

Company commander, Captain Richard 
F. Timmons, McLean, Virginia, attributed 
his company's success to the alertness of 
roving guards within the company peri- 
meter. "They reacted immediately and 



decisively to the attack." 

During a last-light reconnaissance on the 
final day of November, the brigade's avia- 
tion platoon killed nine of an estimated 
enemy platoon hiding in tunnels two miles 
west of LZ English. 

Christmas saw 3/503d paratroopers con- 
ducting search and clear missions in the 




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Crow's Foot area with 3/503th Screaming 
Eagles. Other brigade elements continued 
pacification during December. In January, 
the 4th Division's 2d Brigade left the An 
Lao Valley, returning to division head- 
quarters for redeployment. The 3/503d and 
the 3/503th moved north into the An Lao 
to take up the slack. 

At the beginning of 1970, pacification 
continued to make progress in the four 
districts of northern Binh Dinh Province. 
Dispensaries and schools were opening and 
increasing numbers of people were using 
these facilities. Brigade engineers continu- 
ed work on roads and bridges. The 173d 
Military Police opened a combined station 
in Bong Son with Vietnamese MP's. The 
1st Battalion was operating in Phu My 
District; the 2d Battalion in Hoai Nhon 
district; the 4th Battalion in Tarn Quan 
district; and the 3d Battalion was conduct- 
ing operations in the An Lao Valley with 
the 3/506th. 





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U. S. O. SHOWS & VIPs 



During the past 12 months, the brigade's 
rear areas and remote fire support bases have 
become showplaces for many distinguished 
and well known visitors. USO organized 
tours featuring entertainers, music groups 
and Hollywood screen personalities brought 
a touch of home to the war weary para- 
troopers. 

Big names like: veteran movie actor 
Jimmy Stewart, Playboy bunny Kathy 



McDonald, dancer-model Dixie Clegg and 
TV personality Tom Tully were introduced 
to the Airborne troopers. Also, baseball 
greats Ron Swoboda of the Mets, Jim 
"Mudcat" Grant of the Cards and the 
Braves Milt Pappas thrilled ground pound- 
ers with handshakes, autographs and just 
plain shooting the breeze. 

"The Ralph Kimbrough Show and 
Trash Band", a five member group from 



Hollywood, Calif caused considerable 
clamor when they brought shapely Miss 
Dee Steele on stage to wow the audience 
with her vocal stylings and dancing finesse. 

A six man laugh riot, known as the 
"Harmonica Rascals" combined funky 
attire and slapstick antics with old favorites 
that Sky Soldiers wanted to hear; and 
presented a show remembered by all. 

In addition to American groups, rock 







bands from Australia, Korea, Guam and 
the Philippines left their music ringing 
through the vast farmlands of the Binh 
Dinh Province. 

Of the brigade's own music groups, the 
"Highland Sounds" not only ranks high in 



Airborne circles but is a favorite among 
troops of other units. Performing a tasteful 
oleo of rock, pop, and soul sounds; the big 
ten man band walked away with first place 
in the USASUPCOM "Battle of the Bands" 
at Red Beach in Qui Nhon. 



Equiped with two guitars, a collection of 
popular songs and two great voices, the 
brigade's folk group, Gallager and Slade, 
is dedicated to entertaining troops in the 
boonies who have little opportunity to see 
the USO shows. 




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Aside from entertainers, the brigade's 
pacification efforts and tactical operations 
prompted visits from important American 
and allied military officials. Some were men 
who have' made their mark in the annals of 
military history. 

Lieutenant Generals Charles A. Corcoran, 
Frank T. Mildren, and William R. Peers 
made countless observations of brigade 
programs, noting the progress of a year's 
hard work. 

Joining Corcoran, Mildren and Peers; 
Major General E. B. Roberts and General 



Creighton W. Abrams conveyed their 
heartiest congratulations to the brigade on 
the sixth anniversary of its activation. 

In September, Secretary of the Army, 
Stanley Resor toured Vietnam. Paying a visit 
to the brigade, he met troops and viewed 
recent pacification efforts. 

Perhaps the greatest honor bestowed on 
the brigade was the presentation of the 
nation's highest military unit award — the 
Presidential Unit Citation. 

The brigade was cited for "extraordinary 
heroism" involving "individual accounts of 



unhesitating courage and tenacity" displayed 
during the 1967 action at Dak To. 

General Creighton W. Abrams, com- 
manding general of the U.S. Forces in 
Vietnam presented the coveted award to 
the brigade in September 1969. 

Now attached at the brigade color, the 
blue streamer imprinted with the words 
Dak To in white letters stands as a proud 
symbol of the excellent quality and bravery 
of the fighting American paratrooper. 





84 





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BINH DINH 
PROVINCE 





The faces of northern Binh Dinh Pro- 
vince, the 173d Airborne Brigade's area of 
operation, are smiling, contemplative, 
patient, disturbed. Thev reflect the ethnic 
and cultural diversity of all Vietnam. 

The people in northern Binh Dinh's 
districts of Tarn Quan, Hoai Nhon, Hoai 
An and Phu My earn their living primarily 
by agriculture, with rice as the basic crop. 
The land supports two to three rice crops 
a year. Land locked Hoai An District is the 
area's rice bowl. 

Other trades and industries supplement 
the agricultural economy. Shallow water 
fishing industries and salt fields flourish in 
the three coastal districts. In northern most 
Tarn Quan, recognized by the Vietnamese 
government as a separate district only since 
February 1969, small factories or shops 
produce cigarets and coconut fiber rope. 
Hoai Nhon tradesmen manufacture brick 
and' roof tiles, pottery, charcoal and some 
coconut fiber rope. Phu My District has 
four rice mills and two ice plants. 

To learn something of the proud people 








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who are the beneficiaries of their govern- 
ment's pacification program in northern 
Binh Dinh, we turn to the past, looking for 
the ancient roots that nourished the growth 
and development of the people, culture, 
and economy. 

Ancient Vietnam consisted of three geo- 
graphic areas administered as separate 
political units: Tonkin, which included 
most of present day North Vietnam; An- 
nam, the middle that includes Binh Dinh 
Province; and Cochin China, the southern 
third of South Vietnam. 

The ancestors of present Vietnamese 
seem- both physically and culturally to have 
been a mixture of Sino-Tibetan and early 
Indonesian or Malay types. Today about 85 
percent of the present Vietnamese popula- 
tion are ethnically Vietnamese, called An- 
namese in early centuries. 

The Chinese extended their influence into 
Vietnam as early as 2879 B.C. In 207 B.C. 
a Chinese general conquered a number of 
small states in the Red River Delta area and 
combined them with two Chinese provinces 
to form the kingdom of Nam Viet. Armies 



of the Han dynasty overthrew that kingdom 
in 111 B.C. and made it a province. 

The area that presently includes northern 
Binh Dinh emerged in 618 A.D. as a Chinese 
protectorategeneral named Annam, v/hich 
means, ironically, "pacified south." 

Despite their exposure to Chinese cus- 
toms and culture and more than 1,000 years 
of continuous Chinese rule, the Vietnamese 
people not only retained their national 
identity, but they fought for it. In 938, as 
China's Tang dynasty tottered, a Vietna- 
mese general drove out the Chinese army, 
and the free Great Viet State emerged, 
signaling the beginning of 900 years of 
independence, except for a 20-year inter- 
lude of Chinese occupation in the 15th 
century. 

The next period of foreign intervention 
came from Europe. France entered Vietnam 
permanently some time after August 1858, 
when a naval squadron steamed into Da 
Nang harbor seeking to establish a French 
commercial sphere of influence. French 
and English interference in Southeast Asia, 
however, began near the middle of the 18th 



century. Vietnam's independence ended 
in 1883 when France extended its control 
over all of Vietnam. 

The Vietnamese were no more satisfied 
to live under French rule than they had 
been under the Chinese. The French colonial 
regime came unceremoniously to an end 
in 1954 with the battle of Dien Bien Phu and 
the Geneva Accords that divided Vietnam 
into north and south at the 17th parallel. 

Events from 1954 to the present tell of a 
people torn by internal subversion, war, and 
the struggle to form a viable, responsive 
government. 

One thousand years of Chinese rule did 
not dim the Vietnamese vision of freedom 
and independence. The sometimes quiet, 
sometimes violent struggle against French 
colonialism lasted more than 70 years. One 
point has become clear. The Vietnamese are 
a patient people. They will eventually 
overcome their communist enemies and 
live in peace and freedom as they did be- 
tween the ninth and nineteenth centuries. 








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THE SKY SOLDIER 

What are you looking for Sky 
Soldier? The enemy? A cold 
beer? A vision of home? A lost 
friend? What are you reaching 
for Sky Soldier? 

The dawn of each new day may 
bring a different answer, but no 
matter. The infantryman goes 
on — to fight, to die, to live, and 
— yes — to go home. 




97 



War does things to a man. A 
wounded buddy and a mad dash 
in the open. "Are you crazy?" 
"Are you scared?" "Hell, yes — 
I guess!" 

To make his way through impos- 
sible places. To search for 
something that may or may not 
be on the other side of the next 
tree. War does things to a man. 







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Tension and toil make small 
pleasures great ones. For a man 
to carry on — as he always does 
— the fight must give way to a 
few moments of rest and com- 
fort. That letter from home 
may not be much, but it isn't 
war. Where do I go tomor- 
row? What did I see today? 






100 








There are so many, many 
memories. Medals, wet water, 
hot sun, baseball players, ele- 
phant grass, rain — all those 
things and more: much, much 
more. Remember it all, the 
good and the bad — how could 
it be forgotten? 










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